TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays made hitting coach Chad Mottola a scapegoat for their failure in 2013 on Monday, the only member of John Gibbons’ staff not to be retained after first base coach Dwayne Murphy decided to retire.
The fate of the two men, who shared the hitting coach duties—although Mottola handled most of the Jays’ hitters this season—ended up being linked. Murphy first mentioned his plans to walk away from big-league coaching on the final weekend of the season, and when he confirmed his decision the Blue Jays decided to change up the role entirely.
There was no public explanation for the moves from the Blue Jays, and no private sense of why the change at hitting coach was needed, although there was going to be some turnover in the coaching staff as a result of this year’s disappointment.
Apparently it’s Mottola’s price to pay.
Pitching coach Pete Walker, bench coach DeMarlo Hale, third base coach Luis Rivera and bullpen coach Pat Hentgen will all return in their current roles for 2014, leaving two vacancies for Gibbons to fill. He may already have candidates in mind.
Mottola was in his first year as hitting coach after being promoted from Triple-A to work under Gibbons, and received credit from Adam Lind, Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie, among others, for his work.
He interviewed for the hitting coach job with the Cleveland Indians last fall before he was promoted by the Blue Jays.
Murphy, a big-league coach with the Blue Jays since 2008, spent three seasons as hitting coach from 2010-2012 before moving over to first base and working as an assistant to Mottola. He continued to work with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion this year because of their relationship and familiarity.